The Amery Ice Shelf
Near midnight on the evening of Friday, December 28 we boarded the helicopter for a flight to the Amery Ice Shelf.
The Amery Ice Shelf is the third largest ice shelf in Antarctica as well as the whole world. The shelf is 550 kilometers
long (330 miles), 200 kilometers wide in the front (120 miles), and 50 kilometers wide at the beginning (30 miles).
Amery Ice Shelf is 300 meters deep in front and 2500 meters deep at the back. It is a solid sheet of ice floating on
water. Its origins are in the glaciers as well as the snow that falls on it. Even though Antarctica gets less precipitation
that the Sahara Dessert, there is enough time for snow to fall and give it a fairly flat surface.
Finally, the Amery Ice Shelf advances 1200 meters a year.
Below is a picture of a small part of the ice shelf taken at 12:30 a.m. from the helicopter by Jackie. The ripples are
caused by the ice shelf sliding over an island.
The picture below (left) is one I took from the co-pilots seat on the helicopter and it shows very well the continuing ripple
effect. The picture on the right taken by Jackie from the side window shows a portion of the ice shelf breaking along the
dip forming a canyon. Eventually, the break will be complete and a new iceberg formed.
In the picture below you can see a frontal view of the mouth of the ice canyon. Our helicopter pilot flew us into this
canyon below the top surface of the ice! It was spectacular.
Below is a picture of the canyon wall which I took from the front as we entered the canyon
Below are two midnight pictures Jackie took after we flew up and out of the canyon.
Below, patterns in the
melting ice visible from the
Left, the Kapitan Khlebnikov in the
pack ice as we return to land on the
ship. This was as far as it could go
without wasting time and fuel to get to
the ice shelf.